Recently I attended an Intro to Clicker Training clinic at my own facilty. I opened the door to a different picture to expand my knowledge of it for knowledge sake and for others to learn and make choices on their own. We had a nice group of ladies and horses/ mini’s in attendance.
I will speak from my perspective only .
First, I want to Thank Sharon Zecchinelli for enlightening the group with great basics.
From my perspective as a teacher I try to remain open minded to ideas and concepts. When the topic came up about clicker training on the FB group Vermont Horse Community , the conversation lead me to think I should take this opportunity to learn about it, at least for basic knowledge of the concept. The seed was planted and Sharon and I began to set the ball in motion.
Last weekend we had a nice day to gather and learn.
Like everything in building a foundation, timing is everything.
We were each given a period of some one on one time with Sharon to teach the target , click, treat flow. Not as easy as it looks. Timing is everythng! LOL
As we progressed we were asked what we were here to try and correct. When I was asked I had no asnwer. Turely I was there to experience it and learn what I could and IF it pertained to my ideals I would honor it and incorporate it as it fit per horse/ situation.
I had my doubts as to its uses and certiain issues but, durring the day I saw some behaviors change and fair enough, if the human stayed true to the concept , as with anything else results would come. Clearly this is a wonderful style of training. I appreciate its finest forms and applaud its advocates.
We all branched off and tested the technique on our own with tasks. I saw some application for liberty work. So off I went On-line first , then tossed the line over Pop’s neck and tested things at liberty. Pop is a tough nut to crack and it was getting a bit redundant for him. I knew I needed to step it up. Liberty over a barrel – single barrel!
Sure we have done this on-line and tested/ played with it at liberty but not in this way. Ill be danged, we got it! It was a great baby step approach to completing this task. My task , should I choose to go there, will be to gain distance and flow.
For viirtual visual clarity, I was in a leading position, with my fist as the “Target” . we approached and off he walked and hopped over. No, not the first time, we had a few times on-line with adjustments and corrections to position but in the end there it was! Fair enough!
I can see how it might be of great use in Horse Agility work. Online too but liberty it could play an even bigger part. In my opinion a lot depends on how you choose to reward/release and develop your horse, as well as how far along you are in you foundation development to begin with. Pop and I have quite a history so some of what we already have played part.
Lots of variables but I truely enjoyed the experience.
What can I say:
I am Committed to learning with eyes wide open, unless you do somethng to make me shut them!
I am Committed to doing what I feel is right for each horse/human individually no matter what the “Tide” says.
I am Committed to never pigeon hole myself or any horse I work with. Every one /thing learns differently. I feel as a leader /teacher it is my resposibitly to know which arrow to pull out for which situation. In order to do that I must have many different arrows!
This clinic gave me good taste of what can work, a different arrow . No I cant say ill be a clicker devote, but appreciate what I saw first hand as another tool to higher learning.
Bottom line: Never stop learning
Jennifer Kirkman with her wonderful partner Orion. Jennifer has done a great job with her boy. He had a few fear issue , so we chose to play at GMHA casually to explore what he was about. Water was one thing she said needed work, and he walked through it , trotted through it, and as you can see in the picture, jumped into it. His willingness was wonderful. What I did note durring the course of our play was his sensativity and introvertedness. Though big and ploddy he is very aware of her energy and it doenst take much to get hi to respond. A huge respsosibility going foreward to not blow him out of the water. Sorry no pun intended. LOL
He gets it just needs more time to process. Dont rush him and he will be wonderful .
Jen mentioned he is good with things like water when she leads him but going on his own , if she is riding is a different story.
Great teaching point!!!
I see this a lot the confidence is on the ground but not when human is mounted. One way to develop this from the ground to the saddle is to begin to have them meet things first and put yourself in followers position rather than the leaders. This is including leaving the barn area. Another topic all together!
Lets break the horse into sections A nose and forward, B neck/ shoulders, C mid section ( saddle area), D hind end, and E everything tail backwards.
What we want to do is begin to guide our horse from section A, normal area, to E. It is not needed by all to do this especially from the rear sections but if you so desire it to be, then it is a progression. Nothing wrong with confidence in all sections. Driving horses do this as thier job. Some horses, non driving , need it to be addressed others are very tollerant and its never an issue. All depend on personality and how they have or have not been developed.
For Orion and his water:
For Jen to be able to x water aboard him she will need to begin to ask him to step up his part of the bargain and grow in his confidence step by step. The water at GMHA was a great intro. We crossed large streams and stood to play and drink. He ended up taking the lead and looking for Jen to come along. This is super. In the end we came to the water obstacle seen in photo.
In the picture we can see a split second in time. Some mixed messages it looks like but being there I can say it was a split second in time. Still a teaching moment taken, Thank you Jen! To allow Orion to do his thing the guiding hand( with line) must say and denote the freedom to go. We see a bit of a holding tension in photo. “The door is open this is your route forward” is a way to think of it. I beleive the taughtness was a bit of negotiating direction on Jen’s part but still it is his jump and we need to allow him to make the manuver on his own. We can move our feet if need be, or let slack out in rope. we must be flexible when teaching. Every horse is differnet and needs different support styles. Micromanaging will only get in the way of progress in anything especially his confidence. Orion, made a wonderful jump down into the water. He sized it up all on his own, and when he found his sweet spot he went. The secret is to give him, them , the time they need to think it through and do it on thier time. Rest the encouraging arm and allow with the guiding one.
Big day for Orion and Jen. Well Done!
I concider this a follow up and maybe a conclusion to my ‘The Building of Arnold” post.
This will be a timeline chat of progress made, Goals achieved , and new horizons seen.
As religiously as I could I built up Popeyes hind end with online hill work, and ridden hills on trails and in my hill field. By the time I got to a great trail ride mid/late August, as a pre ride for a hunter pace I was setting with a local riding club I had a horse. He was so spot on in his physical readiness it was awesome.
I guess I should note I had my Sarah in tow (ponied), for a good ride.
As we were moving along both horses were very clearly enjoying the ride. Pop was ready to go . Sarah was playing at the end of her lead line. Talk about multi tasking!
We had many opportunities to canter along and guess what… we had a left lead as a matter of choice! This was my goal with this fittening was to develope the hind end enough to support a left lead.
Every time Pop chose to canter off he chose his left lead! How cool is that. This was a sure sign I was on the right track with all I had done leading up to and including the fittening program.
Fast forward to October. I had begun to recover after Irene and find my way back to where we left off. I was on a call with a horse group I belong to ” The Horseman’s Jingle”, I mentioned I was still feeling a bit lost in direction going into winter with my horses. A suggestion(reminder), was made that when out doors was not an option indoor play could include adding jumps, ground rails , Caveletti’s, to continue the building/ hind end strengthening process. I was concerned about loosing what I had gained.
I took the thought and ran with it. I had fun with a variety of ground covers, rails to barrels. Trotting and cantering and landing in a forward flow. It should be noted I did not do this every day it was incorporated into a fittening program as one more thing to check off per week, including days off and/or massage days.
A few days ago I made a (re) discovery….You see in my youth I used to be around a lot of high quality jumping horses . I saw the schooling etc and saw some amazing horse and riders perform. I knew the thinking behind the practice jumps . Not just at the shows but in the lesson arenas etc.
That my friends was a different life BUT I could draw on it even now.
Fast forward to current. I was doing ground rails etc which worked well but especially for Pop seemed to not require much of him. It wasn’t stimulating enough to make him really use himself. I found them boring too! This refreshed idea was exactly what we needed. So enter variety of ground poles, low caveletti’s, barrells etc. Diversity!
Then my discovery of spreads…. this is a key factor for what both my horses need.
I had my barrels set up and used rails on either side to stop them form rolling. For what ever reason they had been moved away from the base, maybe 8″ or so and not in straight order.
I had pop doing traveling circles and intermingling what ever was in his way he needed to negotiate, (Think to his feet).
He approached the barrels and what I saw made me very excited.
** Not just lift but stretch. Hmmm! how interesting!
I proceeded with this excersize with sarah who really needed to work on front end stretch and reach. She is super athletic but tended to land in a heap. This is where I saw huge possibilities. I set the rails up at a distance from the base.
In the end of out first session we had lift and an amazing beginning process of opening her shoulders and reaching forward and down in her neck. I requested on the landing of both horses that they flow forward and take a few stride of canter before rest. Think of what this does for back and top line folks….
The following time I took Pop down to explore this rediscovered way to develop whole body coordination, I again moved the rails out and developed the arch needed to achieve stretch and reach.
Something seemed to be missing for Pop. Towards the end of our session Pop showed me the answer. He needed to be reminded he had a hind end that needed to complete the excersize. He landed a couple times with a hind leg in stride between the barrells and the landing rail. Hmm? How interesting! We need to connect the dots!
Next time around I asked with more purpose and when he took off he had great lift, stretch and upon landing truly sucked up his core and brought his hind end under him to clear the landing rail and then flow fwd to a nice few canter stride. Awesome to see. Full connection from front to hind.
I highly recommend being able to SEE your horses, ponies, jump little fences, nothing huge needed. Combine spreads and the plastic jump blocks work really well flat out for a low ground cover to add a great looking stretch and reach.
They have so much to show if we just listen with our eyes! They will tell us if its too much too soon, not enough, helpful, scary. But we need to be willing to let them have a say. Maybe a little less MAKE them and a little more ASK them .
Not just jump or school because we want the end result…ribbons!!! how many horse do you know in any equine area of performance who have been ruined because of over use, and in many cases too young, too soon.
You should all know that the time I spent doing the jumping was all of about 20 mins of an 1.15 hrs time. I spent most of my time playing looking for quality gait work, and softening rib cages, and of course working the Glutes online. Circles, sideways, leg yields , shoulder in and haunches in. And never forget chill time!
Its fun , stimulating, sparks a playful side in both “H Factors”.
Hope this was helpful …. took me some time to condence it and find out how to put it into words. Sometimes you just have to be there.
So in closing the post on “The building of Arnold/ Intrinsic value…, what do i have?
1) Left canter lead upon request online and ridden. though the ridden is not solidly developed it is there and Amen for that!
2) A new area in my conditioning regime especially through winter.
3)Another way to connect front end and hind .
4) spreads either on ground or in a jump= a different stretch.
5) happy, fit horses!
6) A great outlook for goals and progress through winter.